On Tuesday morning, Buster Olney continued his rankings of the top players in baseball at each position. The Pittsburgh Pirates failed to get a top ten player in any of his first seven articles, which covered starting pitchers, relief pitchers, catchers and all four infield spots. Josh Harrison and Felipe Rivero were each mentioned among the “best of the rest”, which is a small group just outside the top ten at each spot. Other than that, these rankings have looked bad for the Pirates.

On Tuesday, the shutout streak ended when the left fielder list came out and Starling Marte was ranked ninth overall. He ranks fourth for NL left fielders and second for NL Central left fielders behind Marcell Ozuna of the Cardinals, who ranks first overall. That’s a big drop for Marte, who Olney ranked first overall going into 2016 and second overall going into last year.

The drop was expected due to the combination of his PED suspension and a .712 OPS in 77 games, which was the lowest of his career. Olney mentioned in his ranking that the uncertainty of his offense going into 2018 knocked him down the list, but his Gold Glove caliber defense still makes him a valuable player if the offense doesn’t return to pre-2017 levels.

Center fielders are up tomorrow, so things should get a little bit better overall for the Pirates. Last year, Olney had three Pirates in his top ten (Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco), plus Harrison and Francisco Cervelli made his honorable mention category. That made them an average overall team for the league as far as rankings, but unless Polanco gets a favorable ranking on Thursday when the right field list comes out, they are going to be below average this year.

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  1. These are obviously irrelevant but I find that these types of bizarre ratings from baseball insiders undermines their ability to provide insight.

    The common line of thinking here is that: he cheated in an attempt to gain power for 2017 and become the superstar CF. Another assumption is that this was the first offseason he cheated – as he never really had any power previously.

    So why would a baseball insider assume (at 29) Marte would be any different than his normal .360/.440/.800, greata arm, speed, 12 HRs, 42 SBs, and 4+ WAR standard?

    • I liked him a lot in ’13, ’14, and ’15 when he was posting EBH numbers like 48, 48, 51 and HR numbers of 12, 13, 19. I thought he would continue to advance by striking out less, walking more, and avoid swinging at the breaking ball in the dirt. But, his numbers in’16 and ’17 do not reflect a top of the order hitter, nor the power to be a 3 thru 6 hitter. He is an exotic talent for a team in need of some meat and potatoes grinders.

      Cash in on him while we have players to replace him and while he is still in the Top 10 of LF. He could be a very valuable asset for a team that could help him.

  2. The way Marte ran and drew more walks and k’d less when he came back is slightly encouraging. He was also 19-21 in steals I think after April. With their offense and power what it is they need to bat Marte leadoff only and run him a lot. He is 68-84 (81%) the last two years. If he plays 150 games there is no reason this team shouldn’t run him 70 times and he shouldn’t steal 50-55 bases. He has the potential to put himself in scoring position or better 100 times in a season if everything breaks right. He did it 95 times two years ago in only 129 games and only scored 71 runs. He only scored 37.2% of the time he got on base by hit, walk or hbp. Not very good for a guy who was in scoring position 50% of the time and is fast. Cutch’s year didn’t help that I’m sure.

    • Nice stats breakdown. For me, he ideally hits 2nd with another speedster batting ahead of him. Hopefully would see more fastballs and able to use the threat of a bunt as a weapon. Ideally, this happens when Cole Tucker arrives to play SS.

      • I don’t mind that but the way he hacks and strikes out I don’t see him as an ideal 2. I like Frazier in the two hole. Or Polanco. Or even Cutch. I wish Frazier could play at least an average 2B because he is a perfect #2. He’s a hitter I wish they could find 450-500 plate appearances for. Hits lefties, takes some pitches, doesn’t strikeout too much, is smart combined with enough pop to really exploit PNC’s dimensions. He got 454 PA last year with Marte and Polanco out so much but I’d like to see him get that again. With all the awful situational hitting I’ve seen from the Pirates I like his insane .961 ops with men on base career and .891 OPS with RISP. Not sustainable but still nice indicators for a player that got all those ABs at age 25 or younger. Everything points to him being a complete hitter in the future and super Util for a contender…so he will have to leave the Pirates.

    • I think Marte is somewhat an average center fielder but the best LF. In a normal field he would play right where his arm would really play. I fully expect Marte to bounce back and have a good year. Once he gets it out of his mind that he has to hit 20-25 HRs he will again be that guy who sprays the ball all over the field.

      • If Marte is even average defensively in CF, he’s more valuable as a CF than a LF. Sure, he’s arguably the best defensive LF in the game, but his bat plays up a lot more in CF, and that matters, too.

        And from a team standpoint, it gives them more freedom on who else they can use in the outfield, giving them an opportunity to favor offense without worrying about the guy having to be able to handle CF.

        • In the majority of ball parks I think Marte should be CF, however for home games leave him in left as it is a lot of real estate to cover out there.

    • Not moving Marte back to CF is just as bad of a decision as not moving him there years ago. If Cutch’s ego can’t handle it, so be it. Cutch is supposed to be the team leader,, he should’ve put his ego aside & went to Hurdle years ago & offered since Hurdle didn’t have the nads to do it on his own. That’s what a true leader would do.

        • Matter in fact I do know a couple & neither were ego maniacs. Bonds got moved & didn’t like it but went out & won MVP’s. Cutch pouted & went into the tank.

      • The problem is Marte was no better then Cutch when he was in center. I do think he will become more comfortable there but right now he isn’t great like he should be in CF.

        • I have to disagree on him being no better then Cutch,
          Marte was only out there for a very short time before suspension & was moved after.
          1 neither has a lot of hustle
          2 Marte has superior speed
          3 Cutch’s arm is like a ‘LL compared to Marte
          4 Marte can play shallower because he can go back on balls & Cutch is bad at it. They turn routine singles into doubles with Cutch out there.

    • IMO PNC leftfield is harder to defend as opposed to its CF. I would keep him in LF. The PNC LF has more acres than a Nebraska wheat field.

      • Agree. Marte’s arm plays more in LF throwing for outs to second, third and home. The Centerfielder throws to third and second but seldom to home without a relay (where Jordy’s big accurate arm plays well if he gets a chance). The one thing you get with Marte in CF is people are less likely to go from first to third, however, at second they are already in scoring position.

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